Did you know?
With more than 400 miles of canals, neighboring Cape Coral has more miles of canals than any other city anywhere in the world – including Venice, Italy!
Now the 2nd largest city, land-wise, in the state of Florida, Cape Coral was first developed in 1957 by two brothers from Baltimore, Leonard and Jack Rosen, as the largest master-planned community in the U.S.
Clearing the land involved a lot of chopping through the mangroves, pine trees, and vegetation with machetes. There were salt marshes, muddy pools, and thick, hard limestone to cut through. The heat was brutal and the men slept in tents, fending off rattlesnakes, panthers, and gators.
Canals were dug out with dredges and the earth was used to build up the land to the required elevation of 5’6″ above sea level. So many canals and lakes were put in that the developers never had to buy fill dirt.
When it came time to sell, a crack team of hotshot salesmen used a fleet of planes for free rides overhead. Sacks of flour were dropped from the air over the lots that customers!
There was a lot of hype, promotion and advertising. Celebrities like Bob Hope, Anita Bryant, and Hugh Downs were brought in. A movie with Phyllis Diller, The Fat Spy, was filmed in Cape Coral and so were episodes of the TV show, Route 66.
There was even an “amphibicar,” a car that could drive off the beach and right into the water, to take buyers on property tours.
Back in 1959, a waterview site cost $990, a waterfront site cost $1,990, and a riverfront site cost $3,390. You could purchase a site for $20 down and $20 per month.
In the first five months, land sales soared to $5 million, and the rest, as they say, is history!